Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jamaicans to Britain: Please Take Us Back

For years and years liberals have argued that the solution to global poverty is more and more free money from Western countries, despite the clear results of the bazillions already spent, rather than better governance, free enterprise, and the rule of law.   More recently, some liberals mugged by reality propose such novel notions as "charter cities" in places like Haiti and Africa, paid for and administered by the "international community" (read: "The West").   Sounds like a grasp back to running colonies in the third world.  Here's a good, realistic overview of the whole mess:  The Global Poverty Paradox by Nicholas N. Eberstadt at Commentary Magazine (October 2010).

Now comes a report that the downtrodden people of Jamaica, largely the descendants of African slaves, see the return of the British colonizers as a solution to their chronic dysfunction (link):
Most Jamaicans believe they would be better off if they were still ruled by Britain, a poll shows.  In a harsh indictment of nearly 50 years of independence, 60 per cent of those surveyed hanker for the days when the country was Britain’s biggest Caribbean colony.  Only 17 per cent said the crime-ridden, poverty-stricken nation would be worse off under British rule.  The depth of feeling is particularly astonishing as generations of Jamaican leaders have portrayed the British as oppressors who subjected the Caribbean to slavery.  The Queen is still Jamaica’s head of state. Under the headline ‘Give Us The Queen!’, the Gleaner – Jamaica’s biggest newspaper – said its poll showed how much people had become ‘disillusioned’ with the violent and corrupt political gangs running the island.
Re-colonization by the Britain of 1897 would certainly benefit the Jamaicans, but that Britain disappeared during WWI, so too late for that.  Today's Britain has neither the will nor the money to run its own island well, let alone any others.  

H/t John Hinderaker at Power Line (link), who notes the wisdom of the Cayman Islanders, who voted to remain under the Brits. 

John M Greco

Related Post:
Writer Jan Morris is 83 Years Old Today, Author of the Masterpiece Pax Britannica Trilogy

Time's Up in Afghanistan; Republicans Oblivious

The continued strong support among Republican politicians and conservative opinion leaders for our now three foreign wars is their rapidly growing Achilles heel in the fight to regain the advantage over the socialistic, anti-anti-Islamist forces that have of late stormed over the domestic barricades.  Kill the Taliban -- fine and good; attempt to build a modern nation in a backward, pre-Medieval Muslim county -- doomed to failure.  Give us more time, more time, they hector and harangue, as if higher volume could convince sensible people that almost ten years of precious blood and treasure isn't time enough to train locals to protect their own people from the lethal radicals in their midst.  Adequate training is the least of their problems. 

After years of intense instruction and support by Americans and other Westerners, many of whom have died for the effort, when attacked by Islamist insurgents at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel, "one of the capital’s most fortified buildings", machine-gun wielding Afghan police ran away (link).  They ran away.  If "moderate" Muslim Afghans by now will not defend themselves from their radical element, they won't for a long, long time, if ever.  We cannot give them the will and the spine to move Afghanistan to a better place.  Time as well for us to bolt the scene.

John M Greco

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Economic End of the Road in the West

The American economy continues to sputter along, and at least one veteran economist and market maven, Gary Shilling, is forecasting another recession next year (link).  Why all this treading water, with waves crashing over our faces?  My thoughts:

1.  The unwinding of the massive governmental and personal debt we recklessly piled on, and the uncertainty as to how we will get it all done and what things will look like at the other end.  We have been consuming too much and saving too little, and how will an economy accustomed to high personal spending adjust?

2.  The fear and uncertainty as we witness the collapse of the post-war Western welfare state.  The Ponzi pyramid scheme at the core is collapsing from insufficient new saps to soak.  The banking system is threatened.  Western socialists have run out of other people's money.  The pictures, literal and figurative, from Greece, where large numbers of citizens who live off the sweat of Northern Europeans, what of that there is, are violently protesting the prospect of having to work just a bit more, are revolting but not surprising.  The recent violent union behavior in Wisconsin is no different -- those who live off government demanding a better life than that of those who pay for it.     

3.  The utter disaster that is Obama and his team on economic policy.  Victor Davis Hanson: "I think … those in business, from the small entrepreneur to the captain of industry, have decided that it is wisest to sit out what is left of this administration, and wait to hire, buy, invest, and expand until someone at the top shows a basic knowledge of finance and economics, and some sympathy concerning what those in the private sector must contend with."

John M Greco

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mexifornia Unabated

I was struck by a news item that, at a big soccer game between American and Mexican Teams in Southern California, the largely Hispanic/Latino crown jeered the American team. Just one more incident in the stream of such where some Hispanics denigrate the country in which they wish to live and to prosper, while glorifying the dysfunctional, repressive, and dangerous country they have intentionally left to seek a better life. Some have quickly adopted the loathing of America modeled (e.g., "Missouri, Kansas, the middle places" -- land of "low sloping foreheads") by American ultra-liberals.

Victor Davis Hanson remarks at National Review Online in “Mexifornia, Quite Literally!”:
“I love this country, it has given me everything that I have, and I’m proud to be part of it,” said Victor Sanchez, a 37-year-old Monrovia [CA] resident wearing a Mexico jersey. “But yet, I didn’t have a choice to come here, I was born in Mexico, and that is where my heart will always be.” That’s a quote from an LA Times story on the booing of the U.S. soccer team by an overwhelmingly Latino audience during a U.S.–Mexico match at the Rose Bowl. Examine the odd logic: Mr. Sanchez is booing the country that gave him “everything” while cheering the country that apparently gave him very little…. That schizophrenia is what confuses so many about illegal immigration…. When a foreign nation is treated as the home team, and when the home team is booed in the Rose Bowl, I think we can see why the entire open-borders, non-enforcement, ‘La Raza’ paradigm of tribal chauvinism based on ethnic solidarity has been proven an abject failure….
John M Greco

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Illinois Democrats Define Deviancy Down (Some More)

The once great state of Illinois has been run for two generations by Democrats and a few Democrat-All-But-In-Name Republicans (notably former tax-and-spend governors Thompson, Edgar, and Ryan).  It has one of the worst business climates among the states, one of the largest budget deficits and overall debt, and has the largest unfunded public employee pension system in the country.  In a recent ten year period, while the state population grew about 4%, state spending grew over 40%, mostly on government employees and Medicaid recipients -- what amount to the two largest Democrat party constituencies. 

To address their decade-long spending orgy, Democrats, with their huge majorities in both houses of the state legislature and the governor's chair, recently pushed through massive tax hikes -- 67% on individuals and almost 50% on businesses.  And yet, the Republican state comptroller (yes, a Republican, albeit a fiscally liberal one, elected last fall) informed us (link) recently that state Democrats, rather than use that increased revenue to pay down the state debt, are spending it on themselves.

Now comes an assortment of news items that show us that just when we think Illinois Democrats couldn't get any worse, they do:

>> With the big corporate tax hike in place, they now have a real nice squeeze racket going (link), whereby big companies visit state Democrat pols to apply for special tax breaks, which are unavailable to mid- and small-sized business, in exchange for ...?  Well, they don't tell us what the quo is for the quid, but we know it's something.  That's the scam -- the Dems hike corporate taxes and then hand out special exemptions when they feel like it, just like Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are doing with exemptions from Obamacare for Democrat-supporting companies and unions.

>> After all the drama over the state's de facto bankruptcy, upon peeling back the obfuscation and trickery, the Illinois Policy Institute finds (link) Illinois Democrats continue to spend like drunken sailors (link).  I may be going out on a limb here, but I'm thinking that all those dollars, as before, will mostly go to Democrat constituencies.

>> Today, the Chicago Tribune reports (link) that the state Democrats have been holding up distribution of charity dollars donated, some as far back as 2009, by state income tax payers at the time of their tax filing and "borrowing" those dollars for regular state spending.
>> And finally, there's a touching personal-interest story (link) in today's Tribune that involves a dedicated public servant, a lifelong Democrat politician and former Democrat candidate for governor, who in his later years has been serving, no doubt tirelessly, as president of one of Illinois' public universities, one of the many lucrative sinecures that are rewarded, like spots at Fannie Mae and Goldman Sachs, to Democrats leaving elected office. This man, the President of Southern Illinois University, is the proud grandfather of a young woman who has just been awarded one of a handful of special, all-expenses paid university "Presidential" scholarships at a school she is excited to attend.  What school would that be, you wonder?  Why, her grandfather's, of course!  After all, this is Illinois, and as the late Democrat Chicago Mayor Richard J Daley said, roughly, when caught in a similar situation, if a man can't help his family, he should help strangers?

John M Greco

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Chicago Cubs Peaked Early

The other day, June 19, was the 165th anniversary of the first baseball game, according to Wikipedia. Then today, the Wall Street Journal informs me that the first season of the National League was played in 1876, 125 years ago, and the winner of that first pennant was ...... the Chicago White Stockings, a team that eventually became the Chicago Cubs.  The Cubs are one of only two remaining charter members of the National League, and the oldest professional sports team still in its original city.  So how about that -- the Cubs won the first pennant of the Senior Circuit, but won their second and last World Series way back in 1908, and now have gone the longest of all teams since their last one, and in fact, again according to Wikipedia, have a longer championship drought than that of any other major North American professional sports team (link).

They peaked early.

John M Greco

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ObamaCare Supporters Channel Billy Wilder

In the movie Some Like It Hot, a cinematic gem (with Marilyn Monroe how could it be otherwise) and comedic classic, which unfortunately overshadows another Billy Wilder movie -- his practically unknown masterpiece One, Two, Three (link), a ruling mobster played by Nehemiah Persoff turns down his hearing aid as he responds to the George Raft character, a mobster who at the formal banquet has just had a large cake rolled out in front of him that, unbeknownst to him, contains a machine-gun wielding assassin about to spray bullets his way, and who protested suspiciously, “but it ain’t my birthday for a couple of months”, saying with false affection but malign intent, “so what’s a couple of months ... between friends?”

I was reminded of this line when reading a concise and trenchant account of the various serially flimsily specious rationales the Obama team has advanced to attempt to prove up the Constitutionality of the individual mandate in Obamacare – the ground-breaking part of the law that requires private citizens to purchase a private product from a private firm (in this case, but only as the first step down the slippery slope, health insurance). Vegetables and DVDs about global warming climate change are next up for federal mandates.

David B. Rivkin, Jr., and Lee A. Casey write (link) in today's Wall Street Journal:
Consistent with the fundamental principle that the federal government is one of limited, enumerated powers, more than 220 years of case law requires that exercises of the commerce power be grounded in a meaningful, judicially enforceable, limiting principle. ObamaCare's defenders can't articulate such a principle…. If ObamaCare is to be upheld, then the Supreme Court will have to abandon … precedents, along with the plain meaning of the Constitution…. Thus the administration's position comes to this: What is one unconstitutional law, more or less, among friends?
John M Greco

Monday, June 13, 2011

Headwinds for Republicans

Tonight there will be a Republican presidential debate, reminding us that next year’s election is not far off. The many failures of Obama’s policies and his increasingly unattractive persona and behaviors give Republicans reason to be optimistic, but I fear that the headwinds facing further conservative resurgence are strong, stronger than many think.

Many conservatives take comfort in some polls that show more voters self-identify as conservative than liberal, but it’s hard to know what such results really mean, given my skepticism about polls in general because of the degree to which results can be manipulated by design features such as the phrasing and ordering of questions and the sampling methodology. The economy is sinking, foreign policy is a mess, and our liberties are threatened by the Obama administration (the individual mandate in Obamacare comes first to mind), yet last month in a Republican congressional district in western New York state voters in a special election elected a Democrat to replace a Republican. Yes, the Democrat ran on a scary smear of the effects on Medicare of the Ryan budget plan that the Republican House overwhelmingly endorsed, but, but, but, given the Obama record this vote shouldn’t have been close. Republicans are kidding themselves if they think that the electorate is sizably politically conservative.

Examine the realities. Almost half of federal income tax filers pay no tax, and some of those actually get refunds via the de facto welfare provisions in the tax code; another 10 percent or so pay a tax rate of only a percentage or two. More and more Americans are receiving government aid of one sort or another. And look at the escalating thuggery of government employee unions all across the country when faced with any attempt to rein in their excessive and unsustainable compensation and benefits.

Add up the growing number of voters who work for government, the growing number who live off government, and the growing number who pay no taxes to support it, and that could be a majority of voters in states with a majority of electoral votes. That’s the Democrat business model, enhanced by a systematic plan of vote fraud through encouraging and facilitating ineligible voters (e.g., Acorn; anti-voter ID) and cheating in the gathering and counting of ballots (e.g., Florida, Washington state, Minnesota). That’s some headwind. The Republican message is really aimed at adults who do not live off government but yet pay for it, an unfortunately shrinking base -- a development for which Democrats have well planned.

John M Greco